“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Cabo anymore.”
Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun all great places to visit with a range of options for just about everyone but sometimes you just want to get off the well-travelled path and try something new. The mountain town of Santiago just outside of Cabo San Lucas has one of the Baja’s greatest waterfalls and is a cool relief from the crowd of Cabo.
By Wendy Rains
There’s a lot more to explore around the mountain village of Santiago than the little zoo. Rancho Sol de Mayo, located at an entrance to the Biosphere in the Sierra La Laguna mountains, is owned by a lovely gentleman named Prisciliano Elehazar de La Pena Ruiz. I visited the area with friends, Bryan and Sergio Jáuregui, from Todos Santos Eco Adventures, and we stayed in a most charming two bedroom “mud house”, a short drive from the trailhead. But don’t let that description mislead you. It’s quite a sophisticated design, loaded with delightful details and personality. Prisciliano built it himself. He mixed clay, sand, and water together on a sheet, and danced on it. When it hardened, he added some fiber – the remains of palm leaves. Forming balls from the mixture, he left them in the sun for five to six days. If they didn’t break when thrown against a hard stone, the bricks were ready to build with.
Prisciliano’s great grandparents, Abelino de la Pena, and Dona Lucrecia Lucero, emigrated from Spain to Santiago in 1910, and built the ranch. There’s a restaurant and overnight accommodations walking distance to one of the most magnificent waterfalls anywhere in Baja. You might get lucky and experience little tilapia fish nibbling away the callouses on your feet!
Breakfast is served at the ranch’s restaurant, run by Cosme Gonzalez, whose family came over with the Jesuits between the 1600-1700’s. He was born and raised in nearby Miraflores.
There are guided horse tours for 250 pesos an hour, and tours to the top of the mountain where you can arrange in advance to have a pig slaughtered and prepared at your campsite. We also learned about the horse races held every fifteen days in the area, and that the annual Santiago Festival is held July 25th, and the Miraflores Festival runs December 10th-12th. Both are worth attending, in part to see the talented furniture makers in the area.
Sol de Mayo has accommodations for groups or individuals, with six separate pairings of casitas, consisting of one bedroom with bath, and separate kitchen casitas with roof decks for pitching tents or enjoying the views. They are immaculate and creatively designed by a team of architects from Guadalajara. There is another home available for rent, closer to the trailhead that was formerly the original restaurant. Beds and sheets are provided, but you must bring everything else. Each compound has an outdoor ramada –covered area for outdoor dining.
Getting There And Staying There!
Travel to southern Baja is easy with direct flights from many US and Canadian cities. From within Mexico, flights to La Paz and San Jose del Cabo are affordable from most major airports including Guadalajara.